Power Naps Can Keep Your Brain from Shrinking: Study

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Post-sunrise snoozers have something to crow about. Daytime napping can improve brain function and health, according to a survey of 378,932 UK residents.

Researchers used data from the UK Biobank to conduct the study, published in the journal Sleep Health and reported by the New York Post yesterday.

“Daytime napping has been associated with cognitive function and brain health in observational studies—however, it remains elusive whether these associations are causal,” the authors note. “Using Mendelian randomization, we studied the relationship between habitual daytime napping and cognition and brain structure.”

The sleep report was coauthored by scientists from the University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay; University College London; Massachusetts General Hospital; and Harvard Medical School.

“Our outcomes were total brain volume, hippocampal volume, reaction time, and visual memory,” the researchers said, adding that different daytime napping instruments were used to ensure more robust results.

And the bigger the brain, the better.

Brain size has been known to decrease with age—as much as 5 percent a year after age 40, according to the  U.S. National Institute of Health.

The sleep study also analyzed the frequency of napping—highlighting that the length and timing of naps could also affect cognitive function.

Longevity experts and biohackers alike have spoken out about the need for adequate sleep in an increasingly stressful world.

Billionaire biohacker Bryan Johnson emphasized sleep, a healthy diet, and avoiding unhealthy habits as a good way to start living a longer, healthy life.

In a $4 million quest for immortality, Johnson said he prioritizes sleep above anything else.

“Nothing is more important to me than sleep,” Johnson told Decrypt. “I plan when I eat, my social events, my work schedule, everything around sleep, which is exactly the exact opposite of what society does right now.”

In November, a separate multinational study of 60,000 people in the United Kingdom said people who have less regular sleep patterns have a higher risk of death before age 75.

“Sleep regularity was a significant predictor of cardiometabolic, cancer, and other-cause mortality risks in competing-risks proportional sub-hazards models,” the report, prepared by the Illinois-based Sleep Research Society, said.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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